Six int'l firms to be subjected to tax audits
The St Vincent & the Grenadines government says it will be conducting a forensic audit of six international firms to ensure they are paying the right amount of taxes.
Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Dr Ralph Gonsalves said the audits are not being done "off the seat of anybody's pants".
"I am urging everyone who owes ... the government taxes, they must pay, including big companies ... ," he said.
He made the point at the end of a discussion about telecommunication company LIME, which two weeks ago blocked incoming and outgoing calls to government telephones, including at police stations, school, and clinics.
The company - previously Cable and Wireless - was the subject of a government audit that uncovered EC$26 million (US$9.6 million) in outstanding taxes.
LIME has said the government owes EC$2.6 million (US$962,962) for telephone services. The government claims it owes the telecommunication company an estimated EC$1.1 million (US$407,400).
"I want to indicate to the nation that everything is done fairly and I have given instructions as the minister responsible for taxation, for six ... international companies which operate in St Vincent - I am not going to say which ones - to be audited forensically in respect of taxes," Gonsalves said.
The PM said he gave the approval to the comptroller of inland revenue to hire a forensic auditor.
"I don't know the companies who are going to be audited. I am not interested in knowing the names of the companies who are going to be audited. Just to make sure that those whom the comptroller feels should be subject to those special audits, that it be done.
"And I am sure that in the same way in which the comptroller has done audits before by his department by forensic audits, he will continue to be fair and reasonable to all of these entities within the framework of the law, which is the way this government, this administration conducts its business," Gonsalves said.